The picture below is from the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating developed by the Department of Health and Ageing.
I feel very privileged to live in a country where the Government cares enough for its citizens to release a helpful diagram which tells me how to eat. I also couldn’t help but feel sorry for our unfortunate grandparents and great-grandparents who must have really struggled to maintain healthy weight without a government-distributed guide on how to put together a family meal.
After successfully locating meat and fish with a magnifying glass, and taking time to appreciate that more than 75% of items on this plate are carbohydrate-rich foods, I got to thinking about sumo wrestlers. Don’t ask me how this subject popped into my head.
Sumo wrestlers, called rikishi, follow a gruelling schedule of daily training and a high calorie diet. The wrestling society divides its members according to their ability into the upper group (more skillful, stronger, more experienced) and the lower group (sort of reserve grade of sumo). The study looked at 96 wrestlers in total: 12 sekitori (upper group wrestlers) and 84 lower group wrestlers. They were compared to a control group made up of 89 healthy non-wrestlers of the same age.
I know you are all dying to know what they actually eat to get to their size. The main meal is called “chankonabe” (or chanko-ryori), a traditional stew made up of chicken broth, fish, pork and starchy vegetables. It is eaten with enormous portions of rice (up to 10 bowls per sitting) and chased down with a beer or five. Yum!
Here is a macronutrient breakdown for Upper and Lower groups.
Carbohydrates: 780g =3,120 calories = 55.9% total energy
Fat: 98g = 882 calories = 15.8% total energy
Protein: 396g = 1,584 calories = 28.4% total energy
Total calories: 5,586 calories
Carbohydrates: 1,003g = 4,012 calories = 78.3% total energy
Fat: 50g = 450 calories = 8.9% total energy
Protein: 165g = 660 calories = 12.9% total energy
Total calories: 5,122 calories